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42 sailors have now entered the next Global Solo Challenge which will start from La Coruna in Spain, the first boats setting off in September of next year.

The 42nd entrant, announced this week is Italian Riccardo Tosetto, a yachting professional. He joins solo sailors from the UK, France, Australia, Spain, Belgium, USA, Estonia, Switzerland and Holland.

Jamie Young of the Killary Adventure Centre was the sixth sailor to declare entry in the race. He has sailed 200,000 nautical miles at all latitudes. Signing-up he told the organisers why he entered: “Primarily, because I could participate in my own boat and keep the budget reasonable. I have owned Killary Flyer for over 20 of her 40 years and have full confidence in her to keep us both safe and do well. My first few transAatlantics were in very simple boats – no engine/toilet – just bucket and chuck it/no VHF or other radio – just sextant and dead reckoning with paper charts….forgotten most of it now.”

The event is organised by the UK registered company Marco Nannini LTD, of Harrow, Middlesex, as “single-handed around the world east about on production boats, built prior to 2005, between 32 and 55 feet, non-stop by the three great Capes without assistance.”

Boats will be grouped by performance and set off in successive departures over 11 weeks. “Once at sea, there are no classes. The faster boats will have to try to catch up with the slower boats, the pursuit factor creating competitive interest and a fascinating event for the public and sponsors. The first boat to cross the finish line wins. The performance differential between the boats is taken into account in staggering the departures, eliminating the need to calculate corrected times,” say the organisers.

Riccardo TosettoRiccardo Tosetto

The 42nd entrant, Riccardo Tosetto, will be sailing a Class 40. “From the age of eighteen my passion has become my job. I spend more than eight months of each year at sea on a boat. Solo sailing makes you feel at one with your boat, puts you to the test, you have to overcome every obstacle by putting all possible energy into it.”

Published in Solo Sailing
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The French ocean sailing pioneer Bernard Moitessier became famous for trying not to be famous. In the Golden Globe challenge of 1968 with his Colin Archer-style steel ketch Joshua, he was very much in contention in the non-stop circumnavigating contest south of the Great Capes. But the more miles that he logged, the more he reckoned that it was almost an insult to the natural wonders of the world and the sea to sail competitively round the globe. So he gradually slowed down and when he got to Cape Horn, instead of turning left and heading to a finish in Europe, he continued on eastward for the second time in the Great Southern Ocean, and eventually hid himself away among the islands of the Pacific.

Jim Schofield (57), a photographer from Blessington in County Wicklow who sails from Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club in Dublin Port, will be known to regular Afloat.ie readers since last year for having self-built a 19ft plywood ocean voyaging boat for the McIntyre Challenge, which aims to provide an affordable version of the classic four-yearly MiniTransat.

The framework of an idea……Jim Schofield building Molly Claire in the confined spaces of his extended garage in BlessingtonThe framework of an idea……Jim Schofield building Molly Claire in the confined spaces of his extended garage in Blessington

Despite all the inherent problems in such a totally home-based project being made even more challenging by COVID-caused delays, he completed his boat Molly Claire and sailed her on time to Lanzarote to join the rest of the inaugural flotilla in November. But by then he’d decided that he wouldn’t seriously race in the Transatlantic challenge to Antigua, but would sail in his own good time, with the objective of finishing on December 26th, St Stephens Day.

It was as well he’d set this modest target beforehand, as the first boat finished on December 13th, yet with Jim’s very limited means of communication, those at home who were concerned with his whereabouts knew to expect little info until after Christmas.

Jim at sea – in the Trade Wind passage across the Atlantic, the nights were restless as darkness often brought squalls. Photo: Jim SchofieldJim at sea – in the Trade Wind passage across the Atlantic, the nights were restless as darkness often brought squalls. Photo: Jim Schofield

And then Jim did a Moitessier of sorts. Having reached the Caribbean, he heard the other boats were headed from Antigua to the French island of Martinique. He re-shaped his course, created his own charts, and reached Martinique in the small hours of the morning of Christmas Day.

If you want to slip under the radar completely, the shrewdest move is to arrive at an unexpected destination on Christmas morning, when the only traffic anticipated is a large airborne sleigh driven by an unfeasibly jolly fat man in a red suit, and towed by reindeers led by a nasally-challenged neurotic called Rudolph.

Molly Claire and her tired but happy skipper were none of these things. And they became even more invisible as the Sydney-Hobart Race took over global sailing attention. Which was maybe just as Jim Schofield wanted it be, for he was left in peace to snug down his little boat for shipping back to Europe, while at the same time preparing to avail of arrangements to fly home to Ireland and Blessington via Paris.

The ensign of the Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Cub flies proudly in the northeast trade wind at Martinique. Phot: Jim SchofieldThe ensign of the Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Cub flies proudly in the northeast trade wind at Martinique. Photo: Jim Schofield

Thus Christmas was a lively time for Blessington sailing in distant parts, as Jim Nixon of Blessington ancestry raced his 27th Rolex Sydney-Hobart as Sailing Master on the restored vintage S&S 34 Azzura, and finished an excellent fourth overall, while in Martinique Jim Schofield was still getting used to the idea that his little garage-built boat had sailed the Atlantic. He takes up the story here:

THE VOYAGE OF THE MOLLY CLAIRE

The five boats departed Lanzarote on the 17th November, a day early to avail of the dropping wind. I moved slowly down east of the Canaries and met variable airs off the African coast until the 23rd when Molly Claire finale got moving well. Within two days, the wind and seas had built up and I stayed well reefed until the 2nd of December when we were just west of the Cape Verdes. I later heard this time was 30 to 35 knot winds and 3 - 4 metre seas. Big seas for a 19ft boat……

Early December began our open ocean voyage properly, full trade winds and seas, and no going back. A one-way conveyor belt to the Leeward Islands. The grind continued every day, eating, sleeping, checking Molly Claire and keeping my mind and body in order. Days were hot and, sunny with consistent wind and wave. Then every evening, the cloud built all around and after dark, the wind usually picked up and the odd squall kept me on my toes.

By the 16th of December, I saw on my little satellite text machine that the other four had reached Antigua. I was a long way behind but since I was not racing, it came as no surprise. Rocking on until the 19th of December, the plan changed to head for Martinique. The other boats were being moved there so I tacked back again south across the Trades. I had charts of Antiqua and nearby islands but not Martinique, so I spent several hours drawing pilotage plans from Navionics on my phone.

Conditions in Martinique were everything Jim had hoped for. Photo: Jim SchofieldConditions in Martinique were everything Jim had hoped for. Photo: Jim Schofield

On Christmas Eve, I shouted “Land Ho” when I saw land for the first time in 35 days. It was a grey day and blowing well. As night rolled on, I sailed just south of Phare de L’Ilet Cabrits lighthouse and tacked north into St. Annes Bay. I saw dozens of boats anchored as fireworks flared up into the sky and music blared from the bars along the shore. Sailing as close as I dared, I shone my head torch into the water and was delighted to see white sand no more than 5 metres below. Down came the sails, over went the anchor and I sat in the cockpit just soaking in the end of our voyage. I had arrived at 1.30 on Christmas morning. Next day, I radioed Eteinne, the first competitor home. He organised a French sailor friend to tow me into La Marin marina.

The next three days were spent getting Molly Claire ready to be shipped home and I flew home via Paris, in time to be back for New Year.

Overall, the voyage was a lot tougher than I had expected, both physically and mentally. I found depths of persistence and resilience I had not known were there before, which can’t be a bad thing!

A snug berth at journey’s end. To put this voyage in perspective, the home-built Molly Claire is the same hull length as a Squib, while she is a foot shorter than a Flying Fifteen, and a foot longer than a Shannon One Design or a Belfast Lough Waverley. Photo: Jim SchofieldA snug berth at journey’s end. To put this voyage in perspective, the home-built Molly Claire is the same hull length as a Squib, while she is a foot shorter than a Flying Fifteen, and a foot longer than a Shannon One Design or a Belfast Lough Waverley. Photo: Jim Schofield

More on the design of the Transat 580 here

Published in Solo Sailing

Pierre Le Roy sailing the uber-scow Teamwork has a good lead in the Euorochef Minitransat 2021 as he closes towards the finish at Saint-Francois in Guadeloupe 200 miles away, where he is expected to cross the line tomorrow (Friday) evening.

With nearly a hundred miles in hand on the next boat, Fabio Muzzolinini’s Tartine, he has been benefitting from being first to the fresher winds on the western side of the Atlantic, circumstances which had dictated that the fleet trended well south in search of better pressure in mid-ocean.

Ireland’s Yannick Lemonnier, sailing the veteran 2004 Sam Manuard design Port of Galway, was at one stage showing a class best placing of tenth in the Proto division, but today (Thursday) he was recorded in 17th place, with 750 miles still to sail to the finish.

Race tracker here

Published in Solo Sailing

The McIntyre Globe 5.80 design was created by Australian voyager and adventurer Don McIntyre to bring Mini Transat-style campaigning within the reach of independent sailors with minimal resources. Photographer Jim Schofield (57) of Blessington in County Wicklow - a member of Poolbeg Y&BC in Dublin - was one of those attracted to the idea, and he built his own Globe 5.80 (it’s just 19ft long) in a shed at his home with the November 2021 Globe 5.80 Transat in mind.

Despite all the difficulties posed by COVID lockdowns, he has the boat completed, but getting it to the start line in Lagos in Portugal in time for the start scheduled for tomorrow (Sunday, October 31st) was best done by road trailing. Even that has seen the count-down time being severely reduced, but as the other entrants know only too well of the challenges involved, they have postponed their start until Monday 1st November in order to welcome the Blessington skipper into the fleet, even if he does not anticipate starting unit Thursday (November 4th).

The official statement confirmed the changes:

The Race Director of the G580T Lutz Kohne, has delayed the start of the McIntyre Adventure Globe 5.80 Transat 24hrs to Monday 1st NOV. at 1200 hrs UTC. While the weather was acceptable for Sunday 31st, the entrants all agreed it would be best to await the arrival of Irish entrant JIM SCHOFIELD, who has been towing his yacht ‘Molly Claire” from Ireland by car and is not due to arrive in Marina de Lagos until Sunday night. He will then launch, rig and prepare to sail in the following days. Jim has made a huge effort to be with the fleet and join the race and is now not expected to start until Thursday, catching up with the fleet officially in Marina Rubicon in Lanzarote.

All entrants want to have a drink with him before they set off! That is how the Globe 5.80 family works.

“Our fleet is the same size as the VOLVO Race fleet, so that is cool and the entrants are one big family and this is all for them!” Said Don McIntyre, founder of the 5.80 class and skipper of TREKKA.

Follow the live Tracker on www.Globe580Transat.com and live coverage of the start on Globe 5.80 Transat Facebook Page.

The Globe 580 concept and design was created by Australian Don McIntyreThe Globe 580 concept and design was created by Australian Don McIntyre

Published in Solo Sailing
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After a three day, no-shore-contact stopover at anchor off Portimao in southern Portugal to sort rudder and electronics problems, Limerick’s Peter Lawless (52) is southward bound again in his Rival 41 Waxwing in his bid to be the first Irishman t sail solo round the world non-stop. Under the accepted rules of such contests, challengers are permitted to anchor in some convenient roadstead, but are not allowed to avail of any shoreside assistance whatsoever.

The problem with the steering was completely solvable, but it took time as it involved the clearing of lockers. However, the masthead units came adrift because of a broken bracket, and they are now operating from a new location at the cockpit. After the frustrations of endless headwinds once the Bay of Biscay had been crossed, the weather has now settled down, and currently there are fair winds the whole way to the Cape Verde Islands.

Track chart here

Published in Solo Sailing

Things had been looking good for Tom Dolan on Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan going into the final 120-mile Isles of Scilly to Roscoff leg of Stage 3 in the Figaro Solo 2021.

He’d worked his way up to 8th as they made their way in difficult winds across the English Channel, but with first one side of the fleet being favoured, and then the other, the Irish skipper seemed too often to be with the wrong group, until by the time he finished at 15.13.03 hrs French time this afternoon, he was back in 19th place in the 34-boat fleet. More detailed analysis from the Dolan Team here

Tracker here

Published in Tom Dolan

In the exceptionally challenging sailing of the 620-mile third stage of the Figaro Solo 2021, Tom Dolan on Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan was lying eighth as he rounded the Bishop Rock at the western point of the Isles of Scilly at 1400 hours today (Wednesday) and shaped his course for the 120-mile final leg to Roscoff in Brittany. To say that his fortunes have been up and down really understates it, as he has been in a best placing of sixth, but equally for a while was back in 30th in the 34-boat fleet in which the boats have seldom seen more than a six miles range across the fleet, but now in the closing stages are beginning to experience a greater spread.

Details in Tracker here

Published in Tom Dolan

Solo sailor Peter Lawless (52) of the noted Limerick voyaging family has met with mixed fortunes in Week One of his challenge to be the first Irishman to sail non-stop single-handed round the world south of the five great capes. Having taken his departure from Kilrush in the Shannon Estuary on Friday, August 21st with his Rival 41 Waxwing, he had to contend with winds from forward of the beam - sometimes quite strong - for a while, but then he benefitted for a few days from the northeasters which were making things tough for the Figaro fleet slugging their way from the Spanish coast back up to Brittany.

A special feature of his project is that although he has electronic equipment, he is navigating by sextant and paper chart in the classic style. On his way south, though, he particularly noted the high level of shipping on the Transatlantic route westward of the English Channel, and much appreciated the protection provided by the AIS system. But a problem arose when the masthead aerial serving it came partially adrift, and he had a painfully bruising time at the masthead bringing it safely down to deck level for temporary deployment from the cockpit.

The fact that the high-pressure area which normally sits in summer over the Azores has in recent days been settled over Ireland has interfered with the normal wind pattens between northwest Spain and the Azores, and he has been forced onto a more westerly course instead of being helped by the northerlies which usually blow off the coasts of northwest Spain and Portugal.

Waxwing is a well-proven veteran of world voyaging. Twenty years ago, Peter and Susan Gray of Dun Laoghaire were in the midst of a classic global circulation with this rugged little ship, in a venture which took them to many islands. This latest challenge by Peter Lawless is something completely different - more details here

Peter Lawless is facing an eight months solo sailing challengePeter Lawless is facing an eight months solo sailing challenge

Listen to Peter Lawless's recent podcast with Afloat's Tom MacSweeney here

Published in Solo Sailing

Swedish solo sailor Yrvind's most recent appearance in Irish sailing awareness was back in May 2018, when he turned up in Dingle with his decidedly different 18ft ocean cruiser ExLex on a trailer. After the boat was launched, a local fishing boat towed his engine-less craft out to a clear departure point west of the Blaskets, and away he went, destination New Zealand.

Various circumstances prevented ExLex – in which he is quite happy to achieve a sailing speed of two or three knots – getting to New Zealand, but he had put in an impressive amount of sea time (plus port-time in Madeira and other ventures) when ExLex was towed into Baltimore recently by an obliging whale-watching enthusiast.

Since last being in Ireland, Yrvind had actually decided that ExLex wasn't really the ideal boat for the job. So having left her securely-berthed at Porto Santo in Madeira, back home in Sweden, he built the even smaller Exlex II and took a fresh departure direct from Alesund. But then he concluded the new boat was incapable of carrying sufficient stores, so it was back to base in Sweden, and in June 2021 he re-joined the first ExLex in Madeira, bound for the Azores and a circuit of the Sargasso Sea.

The voyage from Dingle was put on hold with ExLex hibernating for a while in Porto SantoThe voyage from Dingle was put on hold with ExLex hibernating for a while in Porto Santo

The whale-watcher had been out in his RIB scanning the ocean beyond Sherkin, but instead of sighting the mighty humpback whale of his dreams breaching in its impressively slow style, he spotted the Day-Glo yellow ExLex, newly arrived in Irish waters from the Azores with any further thoughts of the Sargasso Sea – which the skipper had sailed many years ago anyway – now on the back burner.

ExLex and her very bearded captain were bouncing about in lumpy seas and little wind, making only negligible progress towards port. So The Whale-Watcher towed her into Baltimore, and he and his family gave the lone skipper a slap-up meal.

The word is that ExLex (it means Out-Law) has now been reunited with her road trailer, and hopefully is out of the jurisdiction. For it so happens that solo sailing in Irish territorial waters is a decidedly grey area, so much so that those who see things in black-and-white would say that it actually contravenes our maritime regulations.

Thus some of m'learned friends might even argue that directly assisting a solo sailor to get started on his lone project amounts to aiding and abetting, whereas the Good Samaritan act of The Whalewatcher of Baltimore in bringing ExLex in out of the cold was of course a very seamanlike and praiseworthy gesture of assistance.

A further factor is added to the equation when we learn that Yrvind is now 82, and indeed will soon be 83. There are many very able sailors of four score years who are much more capable than some of half their age. But in an era when the absurdly simplistic chronological age is often still the definition of abilities, 80-year-plus skippers are also a matter of nervousness for the Nanny State.

Sven Lundin on one of his many unusual self-designed and self-built small boatsSven Lundin on one of his many unusual self-designed and self-built small boats

Beyond that, there's the reality that for motive power in calms, he relies on a sort of yuloh, a single semi-sculling oar. Such a means of propulsion was all very well when every vessel was sail-powered, and everything came to a stop in calms. But in this era when ships see calms as an opportunity for economically increasing speed, an 18ft day-glo blob which can be moved at only a barely perceptible speed in a calm is inevitably at extra risk

And then there's the fact that his boat is own-designed and home made, so much so that she defies description with a rig which draws on both schooner and ketch to such an extent that it will inevitably be called a sketch.

Thus we have Outlaw (described by himself as "The Mountain Bike of the Oceans") and her owner-skipper Sven Lundin, aka ExLex and Yrvind. Yrvind means "whirlwind" in Swedish, and he cheerfully admits that he chose his new name because if somebody is looking at an AIS screen and sees a whirlwind looming up, they'll investigate further and maybe become followers of his website and blog.

ExLex, aka Outlaw – is she a schooner, is she a ketch….?ExLex, aka Outlaw – is she a schooner, is she a ketch….?

If you do, you'll find yourself in a parallel universe in which time either acquires a new meaning, or becomes meaningless altogether, while traditional sailorly concepts of extreme performance efficiency become largely irrelevant. But as he has been happily sailing in his own eccentric way for decades now without – so far as is known – causing undue trouble or frightening the horses, he surely deserves proper respect for achievement and survival.

That said, it's even more complicated than our bare outline above might suggest. More than a few noted figures in sailing have built a boat in the parental garage or hayshed. But Sven in 1971-72 built his first self-created boat in the basement of his mother's apartment. We are not told if the apartment building had to be demolished in order to get the boat launched. But as the little craft's dimensions utilized the basement's space to the last millimetre, we cannot see how it could gave been extracted in any other way.

Deciding to go small in boats at the age of 32 was part of a fascinating progress through voyaging. In 1968 he sailed on a 12-metre boat to Rio de Janeiro, and on arrival said: "A big ship has big problems, that's why I will return to the small boats, they only give small problems."

That's the way it has been ever since, his boats built and sailed long distances including Bris II, 5.9 metres long and built in aluminium, in which in 1980 he rounded Cape Horn. In winter.

While Yrvind's more recent boats have increasingly used carbon in their construction, Bris II in which he rounded Cape Horn in 1980 (in winter) was built in aluminium.While Yrvind's more recent boats have increasingly used carbon in their construction, Bris II in which he rounded Cape Horn in 1980 (in winter) was built in aluminium.

Ultimately his ambition had been to sail non-stop round the world in something even smaller, in what he called the "definitive journey" sailing a three-metre boat. But in recent years that voyaging ambition seems to have been modified downwards to become extensive Atlantic cruising in a variety of unusual small craft. Despite that, his free-ranging style has been cramped by the pandemic, and he has had frustrating journeys through airports like everyone else. 

While Yrvind may have experienced a very special freedom-filled relationship with the sea, like everyone else the pandemic has clipped his wings and brought back the joy of airports……While Yrvind may have experienced a very special freedom-filled relationship with the sea, like everyone else the pandemic has clipped his wings and brought back the joy of airports……

Thus the ExLex, slumbering in Porto Santo, was re-awakened, and in due course a whale-watcher off Baltimore in August 2021 found himself looking at something very unusual indeed. That said, they're accustomed to unusual ships and crews arriving into Baltimore from the Atlantic. But even so, an 82-year-old Whirlwind sailing an 18ft Outlaw which looks like no other boat on earth or sea is something to chew on. 

Special catch for a whale-watcher – ExLex is towed into Baltimore.Special catch for a whale-watcher – ExLex is towed into Baltimore.

Published in Solo Sailing
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British yachtsman Sir Chay Blyth returned to the Hamble this week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his victorious return to the UK at the end of a pioneering 292-day solo non-stop west-about circumnavigation against the prevailing winds and currents aboard his 59ft ketch-rigged yacht British Steel.

A large crowd gathered at the Royal Southern Yacht Club to welcome his return, including fellow pioneer solo circumnavigator Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, and Mike Golding who was the first to break Sir Chay's record 23 years later. The fact that only five sailors have managed to complete the same 'wrong way' voyage in the 50 years, against the 140 who have sailed East-about with the prevailing winds, underlines the enormity of Blyth's feat 50 years ago when yachts were not equipped with roller furling, GPS navigation, poor communications and only rudimentary self-steering.

Blyth's wind vane self-steering was smashed in a storm off Cape Horn, and Blyth had to steer his 59ft yacht by hand for the remaining 20,000 miles.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said today: "Francis Chichester, Alec Rose, myself and Chay were the pathfinders when the Brits dominated this form of ocean sailing, which led to a lot of people taking up the sport."

50 years ago. Chay Blyth returning to the Hamble aboard his 59ft ketch BRITISH STEEL at the end of his 292-day solo non-stop West-about circumnavigation.50 years ago. Chay Blyth returning to the Hamble aboard his 59ft ketch BRITISH STEEL at the end of his 292-day solo non-stop West-about circumnavigation.

Mike Golding, a former fireman who has completed six circumnavigations is one of these. "Sir Chay's voyage excited me enough to get sailing and has shaped my career ever since. The continuing success achieved this last week by Team GB sailors at the Tokyo Olympics may not have been nearly so good had these pioneers like Sir Chay and Sir Robin not excited so many to buy boats and get afloat, for it is their children or grandchildren that are now leading the charge in international sailing. We have a great deal to thank them and today is a mark in the history of our sport."

Published in Solo Sailing
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